Whitby, ON – Ontario Power Generation has pleaded guilty to failing to follow notification procedures required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and fined $75,000.
Between August 20 and August 31, 2011, three workers were assigned the task of dismantling shielding canopies and other equipment at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station on Holt Road South in Bowmanville. One of the workers was cutting the frame of the canopies with a torch when he saw a liquid substance emerge along with white smoke. It was later learned that the frame contained lead shots and that the worker had melted one or more of those shots. Neither the supervisor nor the workers were aware of the presence of the lead shots prior to beginning the work.
Lead exposure in concentrations that exceed the prescribed occupational exposure limits for lead can be hazardous to a person’s health. The workers were wearing face shields appropriate for torch-cutting activities but because the supervisor was not aware of the presence of lead shot in the frame, the workers were not wearing respiratory protection required for use when exposure to lead is possible. As a result of the lead content in the lead shot and the lack of respiratory equipment in use at the time of the work, the workers were potentially exposed to lead-containing particles.
On or about October 11, 2011, two of the workers filed claims with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board in respect of an occupational illness potentially resulting from their possible exposure to lead that August. OPG was advised of the claim at that time but OPG did not, within the required four days, provide the required notice to the Ministry of Labour, contrary to section 52(2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
OPG pleaded to failing to comply with the required notification and was fined $75,000. The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Allison Forestall.
In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.